Recently the mayor and City Council have asked Gov. Ralph Northam to shut down almost all businesses in the area.

We in the restaurant, lodging and travel industry are concerned that overly broad calls for total closures will further decimate our neighbors and the community and may not provide the solutions they are seeking.

The coronavirus poses unprecedented challenges to our community, and we applaud local restaurant’s collective efforts to minimize its impact and keep Charlottesville safe. We have taken aggressive steps to promote our public health and provide needed safety to our workers. But as you can expect, as an industry that is based on welcoming everyone, we are uniquely affected by mandates that keep us from serving our customers. We are revising our business models to provide meals in different ways, but we are facing economic headwinds that will lead many restaurants to shut down operations, lay off workers, and end our service in our communities.

Governor Northam has asked the hospitality industry to observer strict guidelines about how to deliver and prepare for carry out. Locally our restaurant community has uniformly responded and has been very mindful of social distancing, food safety, and using safety protocols/distancing when delivering food.

The loss of customers for an indefinite amount of time is particularly painful for restaurants, which operate on tight margins even in good times. For many restaurants cash flow is measured in weeks, not months; and for many, it is in days.

We urge the city and county to continue to let what is left of our industry continue to responsibly provide prepared food and drink to our community through safe carry out and delivery.

One significant way to additionally support our restaurant community is to buy gift certificates/card directly from your favorite restaurants. Your purchase now provides much needed cash flows and when our industry is back on our feet, we will welcome all to share a meal with us at our tables. We look forward to that day!

Roy Van Doorn is the Charlottesville chair of the Virginia Restaurant, Lodging and Travel Association.

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